National Folk Festival Interview: Sally Balfour

Sally Balfour
Image Courtesy of Sally Balfour

Sally Balfour is singer-songwriter who grew up immersed in the Alice Springs folk scene before heading north to settle in steamy Darwin. 2017 see’s Balfour’s official debut on The National Folk Festival program having wowed crowds with her blackboard sets last year.

We sat down with Sally Balfour to talk about growing up in the NT and what we can look forward to from her shows at The National.

Gareth Hugh Evans: I caught your blackboard set at The National Folk Festival last year. How does it feel to be officially on the bill this time around, especially with the NT as one of the feature states?

Sally Balfour: It really is a mixture of emotion – it is so daunting but also so exciting! I feel so honoured to be representing the NT alongside such amazing musicians. I am really looking forward to the weekend, I had such a blast last year and I can’t wait to see what new music I discover at the festival this year.

GHE: You’ve described your music as “deeply personal, acoustic guitar driven songs”. What can festival goers expect from your appearance at The National?

SB: I am fortunate to know a couple of really great musicians who will be joining me on stage. They have an amazing ability to know what sound I want to create without me having to ask, and because of this they compliment my style and create space and depth to my writing. We will be performing my own material with traditional and contemporary folk music, giving the audience a glimpse into who I am and what influences me. For something a little different we are also doing a kids set on the Friday morning, which is for the big kids as well as the little and sure to get you up and dancing!

GHE: You grew up in the folk scene in Alice Springs – what was it like to be part of folk clubs and festivals so far away from the east coast “hub”?

SB: I feel really lucky to have grown up in Alice Springs. I love the isolation of the place and the beauty it brings out in people as well as the amazing opportunities. The community is a very supportive one, and I felt that early on. Mum and Dad were heavily involved in the folk club and we were always encouraged to be a part of the music. Some of my favourite childhood memories are of nights out watching/listening to live music. I spent many folk nights falling asleep under the mixing desk at my mums feet.

GHE: How would you rate the folk and general music scene in the NT now? Are there any festivals or events that music lovers should be making the trip for?

SB: There is a really diverse music scene in the Territory – and I think every year it is growing stronger and stronger. There are lots of small and unique festivals in the NT – The Top End Folk Festival (in Mary River and Glen Helen) and The Mandorah Ukulele Folk Festival (MUFF) are probably the two main folk festivals. There are also other really amazing festivals that encompass folk music like Barunga, Nightliffe Seabreeze Festival and Darwin Festival. All of these are worth the trip!!!

GHE: It’s been a while since you released your gorgeous single and video “Through the Night”. Are there any plans to record and release more music? What’s next for Sally Balfour?

SB: I am always writing, and so I am on my way to making an album. I would like to say I will have something out by the end of 2017 but 2018 is much more realistic!

Sally Balfour is performing in Sydney at FolkSwagon on Wednesday night before heading to The National Folk Festival. Check out her dates below:

Wednesday 12th April – FolkSwagon, Cafe Lounge, Sydney, NSW
Thursday 13th to Monday 17th April – National Folk Festival, Canberra, ACT
– Friday 11:30am – Carnival (Kidsfest)
– Friday 5:00pm – Flute and Fiddle
– Saturday 12:40pm – Scrumpy
– Sunday 10:00pm – Spiegel

1 Comment

  1. April 14, 2017 at 08:18

    […] “I am fortunate to know a couple of really great musicians who will be joining me on stage. They have an amazing ability to know what sound I want to create without me having to ask, and because of this they compliment my style and create space and depth to my writing” – Sally Balfour chats to Gareth Hugh Evans. Interview here […]


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